Woody Allen and Philosophy: You Mean My Whole Fallacy Is Wrong?

By Mark T. Conard; Aeon J. Skoble | Go to book overview

Introduction:
You Know Nothing of
My Work

This series in Popular Culture and Philosophy began with a book on Seinfeld, then came works on The Simpsons, The Matrix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Lord of the Rings. From the beginning, the idea (as well as the notion and concept) has been to introduce to philosophy people who might ordinarily have little or no experience of the discipline. Some people sign up for a philosophy class in college, find the professor annoying, and drop the class—but they nevertheless are intrigued by the ideas. College philosophy isn't for everyone: Woody Allen remarks that he got kicked out for cheating on his metaphysics exam—he “looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to him.”1 But philosophy itself is for everyone: questions about life, morality, and value are of universal appeal. So, this series uses popular culture to motivate philosophical thinking. Bill Irwin, the General Editor of the series, is fond of paraphrasing Mary Poppins: just as “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” a bit of The Simpsons helps the Descartes or Aristotle go down. The present work, Woody Allen and Philosophy, begins essentially with the same goal in mind, but with a twist: in this case, the subject matter is often more deliberately philosophical. Even in his “earlier, funnier” period, Woody Allen's films were designed to have highbrow appeal, combining slapstick and farce with satire and jokes derived from literature, psychology, or philosophy. (On psychoanalysis: “I haven't seen my analyst in 200 years. He was a strict Freudian. If I'd been going all this time, I'd probably almost be cured by now.”2) Later films, some not even comedic at all, seem to specifically raise and explore a variety of philosophical issues, often using humor to do so. (On the problem of evil: “If there

1Annie Hall (1977).

2Sleeper (1973).

-1-

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